GUNSITE ALLOTMENTS, Camberwell and District Allotment Society MINUTES OF AGM, 4th November 2018
- 1 Apologies for absence: Chris Fines, Helen Adkins
39 members were present so the meeting was quorate.
- 2 The Minutes of the last AGM were approved.
- 3 Matters Arising:3f: The General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on 25 May 2018. Eugene
O’Donnell has been dealing with the Gunsite mailing list, but due to the increased work load, this job could be transferred to Ann Revell who is exploring MailChimp.
3n: Good news! Thanks to Tony George and Roger Tydeman (Greenkeeper at the Golf Club) on 5th November (tomorrow!) the company Acacia is going to work on the overhanging trees along that boundary, trimming our trees as well at no cost to us, as a neighbourly gesture. The arrangement is that they will do as much as they can in one day, so let’s hope that they work fast. There was concern that the DE/Golf Club should take measures to prevent branches/seeds from falling on plots by that boundary. Glyn Secker was advised to be try to be present when the work was carried out the next day: he is the most concerned by the very over-hanging oak tree. Diplomacy was urged!
There were no other matters arising that are not covered elsewhere in these Minutes.
4 Chairman’s Report is copied here:
WELCOME! Thank you all Committee Members and Volunteers for the hard work put in this year. This year, severe winter weather then the heat of the summer have made gardening difficult;. drainage has been much improved and the two inspections, on 11th June and 7th August, were carried out in three teams, steered by Helen Adkins nearest the Hut and in the furthest section, whilst Petra Curtis led in the middle section. Issues arising will be covered by the Site Officers’ Report.
- 1) The Report from the Committee Meeting of the CDAS (Camberwell & District Allotment
- 2) Society) which covers Grange Lane, The Grove and Gunsite goes as follows:
a) We have a stable Lease until 25th March 2026. Any price increases are tied to the Retail Price Index. Our rents go up in line with the RPI (Retail Price Index)
b) At the beginning of the year, the insurance provider was moved to Shield because the previous providers would not insure the new wooden buildings at a good price. The move was approved by Philip Milner, Kathy Heeps and myself. There will be an increase of premium from £504 to £983 to cover the wooden buildings on the Gunsite and Grange Lane.
Under the new Policy, the metal containers are covered to £3500, all three wooden buildings to £23.000 and equipment to £9000. Renewal Date of Policy 1st January 2019 Insurance for Public Liability applies for named Members but not to their helpers. Following a query, Armorel will check the status of plot holders children under this insurance.
c) Adrian Hill will be retiring at the next CDAS AGM March/April 2019 and he needs a replacement. The Chair requires some legal work, hence a legal background would be helpful for the post. It is an interesting position and, from what I can see, requires quite a lot of negotiating with The Dulwich Estate
d) The road to the Gunsite continues to deteriorate. Under the Gunsite Lease, ‘fair and rateable’ share of the cost of maintaining the road is to be borne by the Allotment, but we will argue that the major part of the damage is due to Estate’s contractors’ lorries. She has seen slag heaps in the woods and asked Adrian to ascertain whether these could be used for pot-hole filling, in which case a work force would be needed!
e) James Burtt has been given the job of mending the Fencing around the Gunsite Boundary and started on 31st October, last week.
He has given us a quotation for work which was accepted at the last Committee Meeting: Approximate cost £1200. 2 Men @ £25 hr. For 6hrs a day. £300 per day. Four days should
complete the work (Replacing the fence would have cost approx £30,000) Nigel Thorpe will give an update on Maintenance Work Section 10 d)
f) The Summer Solstice Party was poorly attended; perhaps there is a call for Volunteers to keep these important celebrations of the year going.
g) We have several Committee Members resigning: Philip Milner, Nelly Tee, William Marshall, Simon Bogdanovic, John French, Frank Macdonald and Bruce Gregory (round of applause for service to the Allotment) which means 4 for vacancies which we would like to encourage nominees to put names forward. It is an excellent opportunity to get involved with this unique site. (The committee did exceed 20, the number stated in the rules unless considered necessary, this year but could not all fit in the hut and discussion became too unwieldy).
NB As the AGM next year falls on my birthday, could I request a change to either 10 or 17 November 2019?
After this, a question was asked about Lease renewal in 2026: was there a danger that long term improvement projects would be pointless if the lease were to be terminated? Philip Milner reassured members that Adrian Hill thought it relatively safe – the DE, as a charity, has the responsibility to care for the environment. Legally, what are our rights? Could there be a large rise in rents, as at the Scout Centre? Could use of the land as Golf Course prove more lucrative?
5 Treasurer’s Report: Kathy Heeps presented the accounts for the year ending 30 September 2018. This report is available on the Gunsite website.
Shop: sales are 23% lower than last year, result of snow followed by exceptionally hot summer. Stocks higher than usual, result of weather combined with large restocking.
Water: Castle Water is proving far harder to deal with than Thames Water. They send twice- yearly bills based on average usage from two years ago. They do not read the meter. Our meter is always read at turn on and turn off (which happened to be the day of the AGM) by Gunsite volunteers and recorded by the treasurer to ensure we are not overcharged. As the next bill is expected to be based on past usage we have estimated an extra £300 needs to be set aside to account for dry summer.
The majority approved up to £500 to be budgeted for the very important two social events a year.
Action: Treasurer has confirmed that the 2017-18 accounts included £358 spend on social events and the 2018-19 budget includes £375.
6 Site Officers’ Report:
Liz Brunton: gave a list of the volunteers who work on different aspects of the Site:
Mowers: William Marshal, Boris Lams, Nigel Reynolds, Paul Craig, Mark Dudley, Sarah Wetherall, Sue Parminter, John Boreham, Julie le Voir.
John Boreham & Nigel Thorpe who look after the mowing machines & strimmers.
Philip Milner, William Marshall & George Kyprinou who run the shop.
Nigel Thorpe, James Burtt & Philip Milner who are looking after the fence
Robert Holden who manages the manure
John Hodges who’s looking after the gate and its severed padlock
Eugene o’Donnell who looks after the taps as well as the website
Patrick McCabe who looks after the skip.
Jethro Skinner, Winston Black, Richard Woods, Mark Dudley, Clare Unwin who help clear plots before they’re reallocated when this is needed.
A vote of thanks was recorded to them all for their hard work (Liz apologises if she has omitted anyone). There is now a new mower with 7 gears; it is a great improvement. Strimmer is not always hired properly so wrong fuel has been added. Ten plots have been reallocated over the year, not a great turnover; only ever half plots to start with now. Waiting list static at 162; after a 5 year wait, often people have moved away, found a plot elsewhere or otherwise dropped off.
Nigel Reynolds: Manure comes from 2 sources, from the Royal Mews arriving rather randomly, and Croydon Police Stables. This is delivered by Biffa (new contractors) but again difficult to predict so there is either feast or famine of manure! There was and incident last summer when non-plot holder parked car here and got locked in and damaged the padlock.
Fly tipping: DE and Southwark are happy to take registration numbers to prosecute but haven’t done so yet. It is expensive to clear green waste sites. They are considering installing dummy CCTVs on the gate and the container. Jane has photos and independent witness, and an updated list of contractors. Plot holders can put plot waste there but not waste from outside the site.
Jane Taylor: Inspections: held in June and then August. The criteria were only those in Section 18 of the Tenancy Agreement, no personal objectives. Failing plot holders were given 6 weeks to rectify; 2 didn’t comply with this and 7 half plots are vacated. 1 appealed the decision; on 14th October, the appeal members ruled in that holder’s favour, putting conditions on the tenancy agreement. There will be two more inspections before the next annual one.
Ditches: It is 3 years since the plan was drawn up. Ditches need constant clearing in order for flooding to be alleviated. Pipes under the lateral paths are also necessary – free pipe is available. Some pipes run uphill and others are convex! Jane has had to dig out and replace several pipes incorrectly installed. People have to be responsible. Mr Holden expressed thanks for the improvements – in 2014-2014 he had fallen over several times on muddy paths. Some plots are not so easy due to 2WW concrete under them, but there are ways around this.
The two water engineers, Dave Stacey and Alex Hamilton, and Philip Milner were thanked.
Path profiles really need to be convex. There followed a round of applause.
It was agreed that the drainage plan should be incorporated in the Tenancy Agreement.
Working party for trees: Anne Stanby has complied a list of when fruit trees should be pruned.; this ought to go into the new tenants’ welcome booklet. Trees must not exceed 8ft over the year so must be pruned to 6ft to allow for growth. This should be included in the inspection since it is in the Tenancy Agreement. There is no limit to how many trees but we must have duty of care for the future of land that is not our own. New people do not necessarily want a plot covered in trees. Glyn Secker observed that it would be a bad idea to be too prescriptive about what can be grown, that there is a huge difference between trees and bushes; he suggests guidance about root stock for several varieties can come off one base.
Action: Jane Taylor incorporate drainage plan into Tenancy Agreement. Ann Revell to include Tree Pruning Guidance chart into Welcome booklet.
7 Shop Report: Income was down for the reasons given in the Treasurer’s Report. Last year a large order went in on 11th December and there remains £2000 worth of stock more than this time last year. Philip is trying to be more precise in ordering, to avoid waste as has happened with sacks of potatoes. Philip thanked Stephen and George for their help in the shop. He also reminded the meeting that the hut can be accessed for shelter and equipment with the code which is available and easy to remember.
8 Gate Security and entry system: Ann Revell presented the results of the research that Chris Fines had undertaken. The text is presented at the end of these Minutes. The proposed gate would be solid and unclimbable with a solid fence on either side and the gate would close automatically.
Notices about this being private land should be more obvious and raised higher. A keypad was felt to be an ideal solution, (even though the site is not monitored as is a school) and the code can be easily changed as necessary. The number would have to be set along with the Dulwich Estate and Southwark contractors. The point was made that our one-skip-a-year was now full of rubbish not our own; we have to pay for this. The motion was moved that the committee get on with this urgently; there is money available. All but one present agreed with this.
Action: Ann Revell to cost keypad. Committee members to work fast on getting new gate, working with DE. Notices to be made more clear in access road.
9 New Appeal Procedure: was presented by Jane Taylor. At the AGM in 2016, she had agreed to make a more formal procedure than just ‘having a chat’. She has done this; the finished document was distributed. Jane had drawn it up and had legal and industrial relations advice and amended it accordingly. It had already been used, on 14th October 2018, and had worked.
10 a) Quiet Period: Armorel said that this quiet time was necessary for the tranquility for which many come to the allotments. Chris Hyde objected to strimming being forced into the windows
before noon and after 3pm. Some allotment holders are rather noisy (children) and council contractors also. However, it was felt that our rules should be respected. 24 voted for a quiet period and 5 were against it.
10 b) Mature overhanging trees: This issue has been covered in Matters Arising.
10 c) Plastics Report prepared by John Hodges is on the website for all to read. He emphasised that plastics decay in sunlight, particularly dangerous is carpet (because of its toxic treatment) and that this is banned on other allotment sites. Discussion, wide ranging and informed, ensued. It was decided that, at the April committee meeting, wording would be drawn up for the Tenancy Agreement about responsible plastics use and what, such as carpet, should be banned. Armorel recommended all to read it, spread the word and that it is important to integrate into Inspections in future; a way must be found to do this.
Lucy Lloyd Davies made the point that we are contaminating soil that is not ours. Glyphosate should NOT be used. It would be a dream come true, said Nigel Reynolds, for the site to go organic but that is hard to achieve. The Shop does stock some pesticides, but some is necessary since there is no other way of getting rid of such as Japanese knotweed.
It was felt that the report underestimated the situation in two ways:
- i) the effect on the food chain: from the breakdown of plastic under UV, micro plastics (nanoplastics) get into the guts of earthworms which then release volatiles which enter the foodchain and ild life.
- ii) There is evidence that micro plastics (less than 150 microns) enter the food chain throughcrops – as yet, not much world wide research though there is an EU funded project.
Gunsite should have an Ecology Group as well as a Tree Group.
Action: All to read report; committee to plan way forward, including it in Tenancy Agreement in April meeting.
10 d) Fence repair – this had been urgent and dogs could easily gain access underneath.
The east and north boundaries are our responsibility. Nigel Thorpe reported that he and the working party had successfully cleared for the fence renewal but there was still much to be done. Quantities of rubbish, including large items such as a mattress and toilet bowl had been removed. Now we could take pride in a clean and tidy site. Free standing barbed wire at the top is the next to be replaced, taking about 4 days to do a good job.
It as observed that it had been lovely working together so it was desirable to have such a working party of volunteers every 3 months to tackle other problems such as bindweed.
It is necessary to talk to DE about them repairing their south boundary.
Action: Chairman to encourage working parties, Secretary to talk to DE re boundary repair. 10 e) After some discussion, it was decided that it was permissible to gather windfalls from paths, although not to shake trees to create them! Lucy reminded us that surplus produce can be left by the shop and she will take it to a Lunch Club where it is much appreciated.
11 Election of Committee 2018-2019 The committee members that remain after the seven resignations were voted back in unanimously. There were three new members elected: Robert Holden, Judith Patrick and Carrol Henry. Concern was raised that there are so few ‘younger’ members on the committee. How could they be attracted?
Action: All committee to consider this.
12 Any Other Business: The question was asked whether our emails are antivirus. Apparently, MailChimp does have state of the art protection. The value of this system was explained (no individuals want to hold Gunsite email data base since GDPR (May 2018). Action: Ann Revell to set up MailChimp, checking it really is secure.
Tyres had been pulled out of the undergrowth during clearing for fence. These have no value; would Southwark remove them?
Action: Secretary find tyre recycling company that would collect.
Date of next meeting: provisionally 17th November 2019
Action: Secretary to book Scout Troop Room
The results of Chris Fines’ research: Allotment gate
At the 2017 AGM I volunteered to look into views and options regarding when the entrance gate should be left open along with another plot holder. We didn’t manage to link up on this but I have set out briefly below my own endeavours and findings.
1. I have spoken to three groups of people at the Allotment;
Plot holders – I have deliberately sought out people I don’t know, new plot holders, and those who are not familiar from the AGM and committee as I wanted to get feedback from people whose views had not already been expressed.
Approved contractors – I have spoken to contractors at the site when they have been leaving their green waste there. ( I haven’t taken this up with any of the organisations formally ) Southwark contractors – I have spoken to contractors at the site when they have been removing the waste. ( I haven’t taken this up with Southwark formally )
2. Feedback re concerns about the gate being left open
Non plot holders currently have free access apart from overnight leading to concerns about ; Produce and tools going missing
Possible repercussions of challenging people who shouldn’t be on the site
Non approved contractors are dumping waste at the site without having to pay or include the cost in their procurement process.
Southwark have to move unauthorised waste with considerable cost implications.
3. Favoured solution
The general consensus is that the gate should be shut at all times and that it should be operated by a key code to avoid problems over issuing/loosing keys/getting locked in. All the people I spoke with thought the minimal inconvenience of opening and shutting the gate was outweighed by the benefits that would be gained.
Chris Fines November 03.11.2018